Monthly Archives: December 2008


I always feel like Christmas is a race to the finish line.  The race starts the day after Thanksgiving, and it’s over when we leave for church on Christmas Eve.  We crossed the finish line today at 4:20 EST.

That’s not to say that there aren’t fun times in-between.  Picking out the tree was fun.


Actually, picking out the tree wasn’t that fun.  The kids got cold in about 3 minutes and started to whine.  But it is a pretty tree (although now, 11 days later, all you have to do is look at the tree and the needles fall off.)

No, as usual, the fun was in the little things.  In going to the zoo the Saturday after Thanksgiving, because we had a free day. In Advent Craft Night at church, where we made crafts and hung out with many church friends.  In wrapping presents with Emma, which has become an annual tradition which means a lot to her.  In baking cookies. And making many batches of Chex party mix.

And in our annual Christmas picture, which we take in front of the tree. 



On Friday, we head to Central PA for a Christmas celebration with my family.  Now that all of the preparation is over, it should be a nice, relaxing time.  It won’t ever be the same without my dad telling stories.  But we will start new traditions, and sing, and play games, and it will be okay.

I won’t have computer access in the Land That Time Forgot, so my next blog post won’t be for a week or so.  Merry Christmas to everyone and may 2009 bring many blessings to all.


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My favorite knives


I find that a good knife makes cooking a whole lot easier and more enjoyable.  A friend was asking me today if I had a favorite knife, and it reminded me how much I love my Global Knife that my friend Martha got me as a wedding gift.  Global brand knives have sand in the handle, so they’re perfectly weighted.  I only use two knives – a paring knife that my mom bought for me years ago (which never needs to be sharpened) and my Global knife, which is the larger of the two pictured here:

Don’t put them in the dishwasher, as it dulls them.

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Two (actually three) great lasagna recipes

Last night, we went to our niece Jessie’s 6th birthday party, and my sister-in-law Leslie made two fabulous lasagna recipes. (It’s possible that my perspective is a bit skewed at the moment because I’ve been eating mostly Chex Party Mix and Christmas cookies for the month of December.) I love lasagna, but I find that so many recipes are a pain-in-the-ass, because they take so long to make.  Leslie swears that these were easy, and are both from

Spinach and artichoke lasagna:

Mom’s lasagna (with meat): (Technically, I’m not sure that this is the one she made, but it sounds easy, and it got rave reviews from the commenters.)

Here’s one more for good measure:

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And then the cosmic forces of the universe laughed at me

I love karma…except when it bites me in the ass.

Yesterday, Tim received in the mail a traffic citation for making a right turn on red.  (Actually, I received it, as the van is registered in my name.) Complete with a photo of our vehicle making said turn. A $100 ticket.

And I was quietly fuming, as the last thing we need right now is a an extra $100 fee for anything.  So I made it clear to him that paying the ticket was his responsibility, as the mistake was his.

So imagine my surprise today, when I came out of my Saturday Al-anon meeting, listened to my voicemail messages, and found a message from the Oak Park Police Department, notifying me that my van was blocking someone’s driveway, and asking if I would please come and move it.  As I ran to the van, I saw the ticket on the windshield, and the cop parked across the street. As I got closer, I saw the garage door open, with two cars inside, both unable to move because I was blocking their exit.  (In my defense, the snow was piled so that I couldn’t see that it was a driveway and not a sidewalk, and there are so  many signs on the street it’s really difficult to tell from the signs where you can park and where you can’t.) The cop was really nice and said that he had to give me a ticket, which I graciously  accepted (I really did, I’m serious).  The $20 fee (which I thought would be much higher, given that the ticket for an expired meter is $30 in Oak Park) was nothing compared to the feeling of knowing that I had probably prevented this family from going to ballet class, or out to breakfast, or to do last-minute Christmas preparations, given that it’s December 20.  I consider myself lucky – I really deserved more than a $20 ticket for inconveniencing this family for an hour.

So there, Miss High and Mighty. What do you have to say for yourself now?


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I’ve fallen for Yak Trax


(Disclaimer: this is not our back yard.)

I used to get irritated with my mother over her fear of falling on the ice.  This was when I was much younger.  I don’t know at what point along the way it happened, but I’m now terrified of falling on the ice.  This probably has something to do with the fact that I seem to know more and more people my age who have fallen and broken bones, including my nine-months-younger-than me cousin Margaret, who fell on the ice and broke her wrist last week (an injury that the doctor explained was “common in middle-aged women.” Which hurt more than the broken wrist.)

I can’t remember where I first heard of Yak Trax, but I’ve had them in the back of my mind for a while, and then one of my colleagues told me that she got them for her mother, and they’re wonderful. So I bought some today, and have ordered them for various family members.  (Note to any guys reading:  Don’t buy them as a Christmas gift. That would be worse than a toaster.)  They seem great so far, and I wanted to pass them along.

The website is difficult to navigate, but I recommend ordering them on-line. They’re available at Sportmart as well, but they’re more expensive, and the two Sportmarts I went to were sold out of most sizes, as they’ve become very popular.

The only problem is that Yak Trax sounds like Moose Tracks, and that makes me want to eat ice cream. Not something I need right now, given all of the Christmas cookies I’ve eaten…

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Not so lucky jeans

I get really frustrated with on-line retailers who have no understanding of how this whole Web thing works.  I won’t name the retailer (hint, hint: read the title of this post. ) I was buying jeans for Tim for Christmas  (he knows he’s getting them, so this is giving away nothing.)  I had a really frustrating experience with their Web site.  First, it was very difficult to figure out which jeans were available in his size. Then, I didn’t find out that the jeans were on sale until the END of the check-out process, which is just stupid on their part. They almost lost the sale, in fact, because I actually left their site to try to find them cheaper somewhere else, but I ended up coming back again because I couldn’t find any in his size. (For those of you who haven’t met him, he isn’t gargantuan or anything, just tall.)  If I had known in the first place that they were on sale, it would have been a whole lot easier. (Plus, who puts items on sale and doesn’t tell anyone? That doesn’t even have anything to do with the Web. It’s just stupid marketing.)

So at the end of the process, a box popped up offering me $100 value if I filled out an on-line survey giving them feedback about my experience.  I didn’t expect them to give me a $100 coupon for free merchandise, but I thought maybe it would be $10 off each of my next 10 on-line orders, or something like that.  So I gave them very thoughtful, constructive feedback on my experience. Only to find out that it was $100 in magazines. Which had absolutely nothing to do with the product I had purchased, and was a total bait-and-switch.  Do you know how long it would take me to read $100 worth of magazines? I don’t have that kind of time.  Plus, it’s one of those magazine offers where you have to start paying for them after the first few months, so what kind of offer is that? And one more thing, if I want free magazines, I think there are plenty of other places I could find that kind of offer. Without filling out a survey. 

Now, the reason this is so stupid is that this particular retailer has now lost me as a customer because a) their on-line experience was not good, and  b) they made me feel foolish for falling for their offer.  Even more stupid, I don’t normally shop this retailer, but if they had given me a coupon for $10 off my next order, I probably would have ordered again.  Because I just did it last week with another on-line retailer (Victoria’s Secret). I had made a purchase, they sent me a $10 coupon, and I made another purchase. That simple.

I think I just set a new record for how many times you can say “stupid” in a blog post.  Stupid, stupid, stupid.

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Fun facts about me

I saw a blog post entry yesterday in which the author listed “little-known” facts about himself.  In the spirit of ripping off other people’s ideas, I thought I’d do the same. Here are a few things you may not know:

1) I can touch my nose with my tongue.  The question people usually ask when I tell them this is, “How did you find out you could do that?” The answer is that my mother can do it (and demonstrates it upon request), so it was sort of a family challenge. (I’m proud to say that I’m the only one of us kids who can do it. This makes my mother very proud of me.)

2) I could tie my shoes before I was two.  You have to understand that I was the youngest of four, with 9 years between me and my next oldest sibling, and 13 years between me and the oldest.  Said another way, I was kind of like a pet trained by my siblings to do tricks. (I could also wink before I was a year old, and “freeze” on command, which is a difficult trick to describe but drove my mother nuts when my siblings made me do it.) My children are completely non-plussed when I tell them I could do this, as their shoes have Velcro, so it’s irrelevant.

3) The first song I learned to sing was “Show Me the Way to Go Home”, taught to me by my dad.  The second song was “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean”. (When I was older, he taught me some really nasty alternative words to this latter song, which involve tuberculosis, and which always send Emma into fits of laughter.)

4) My first job (other than babysitting) was working at the Wendy’s in Shamokin.  I lasted six weeks, until I was a victim of sexual harassment by the 20-year-old assistant manager, who was a moron and a jerk. I didn’t realize that it was sexual harassment at the time, but at least I had enough smarts to get my butt out of there.  I imagine that the assistant manager went on to a long, fulfilling career as a used car salesman or Wal-mart manager (not that I have anything against either of those professions.)

5) My favorite color is blue. (I’m not sure why that’s important, but it seems to be something that is important to people.)

6) I am a descendant of Amos Gager Throop, for whom Throop Street in Chicago is named. (There is dissention in the family over whether Throop is prounounced with a hard “T”, or a “Th” sound. My mother and her siblings pronounce it with a hard “T”, but I have first cousins who pronouce it the other way. Yeah blah blah blah, get to the point. ) Anyway, family lore has it that Amos Gager Throop was the one who let the prisoners out of the city jail during the Great Chicago Fire, thereby saving them from the fire. 

7) My most interesting family story is that my mother’s uncle Walter was sent to the store by his mother to get a gallon of milk, and didn’t come home for 26 years.  (This kind of story would only come from my mother’s side of the family.)

8) I’ve been thrown out of a bar for fighting. It happened when I was in grad school, and way old enough to know better. It was after a Cubs game. Enough said.

(BTW, I have no idea why, when I make lists like this, the “8” always shows up as a smiley-face. I don’t do this on purpose.  It’s some random WordPress thing, maybe done to encourage people not to list more than 7 things.)

9) My dream job would be playing the strong bass with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Unfortunately, I had neither the talent nor the dedication required to make it the the upper echelon of string bass players, so I went into marketing instead.

10) My only C in college was in Calculus. I just couldn’t understand why you would ever want to know the area under a curve. (Until I took economics.)

And that’s about the extent of the little-known facts about moi!

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